During the gold rush of the 1850s, timber from the British ships left floating in the harbour was used construct the early buildings of Melbourne. These same planks continue their history in Fitzroy’s Old Colonial Inn, built in 1854.
Vince Sofo and Paul Adamo (behind The Espy, Ichi Ni, Ichi Ichi Ku) bought the ageing boozer three years ago and have been lovingly transforming it ever since. The yellow cloak of the Fitzroy pub is mostly unchanged, but the interior has been restored and extended. Next month, 127 Brunswick Street will reopen as a multi-venue, housing Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya, Village People Hawker Food Hall and Upside Rooftop and Bar.
“We’ve built it organically, doing everything ourselves. It takes a little bit longer … or a lot longer,” Sofo says, laughing. “But at the end of it, we get a lot of satisfaction.”
The izakaya will sprawl from the basement (the pub’s old keg room) to the ground floor and out to the original courtyard. Razmy Gaffer (ex-Nobu) will lead the kitchen. Breakfast – Western-style with South East Asian influences – will be run by young guns Adam Bichard (ex-St Edmonds, Golden Fields) and Soren Thogersen (ex-Mamasita, Builders Arms Hotel) in the same space.
Part beer hall, part hawker market, Village People commands the first floor, where Arté Assavakavinvong (ex-Longrain) will serve a mix of Laotian, Cambodian, Indian, Malay, Burmese and Thai flavours. Upside is another rooftop drinking destination to add the city’s repertoire. “We think people will find their favourite space in the building. It’s all part of the experience,” Sofo says.
Launching on Friday October 9, the venue will be open daily from breakfast through to 3am on weekends, with plans to serve food (and libations) into the wee hours.